District Attorney David F. Capeless speaks at the 2009 Vigil of Remembrance
The annual Vigil of Remembrance honoring those who lost their lives in drunk driving crashes was held on Sunday, December 6, 2009, at St. Stephen's Church in Pittsfield. The event was sponsored by the office of Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless, in cooperation with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Over 100 people attended, including family members and loved ones of the victims, high school students and law enforcement.

This year's Vigil of Remembrance was the sixth to be led by District Attorney Capeless, who carries on the tradition of honoring lives lost at the hands of drunk drivers. The late District Attorney Gerard D. Downing began the tradition in 1998.

As the names of 40 people who lost their lives to drunk drivers were read, family member lit candles in their honor. "This annual ceremony helps keep us connected with people who have lost loved ones," Capeless said following the vigil.

The names remain on the list, and Capeless said, "Unfortunately, we keep adding names." Each year since 2002, Lynda Sherman lights a candle in the name of her daughter, Barbara LaFrance, who was hit by a drunk driver. Ms. LaFrance remained in a coma for five years, passing away in 2007.

Community involvement is important to this event. Students from Pittsfield and Hoosac Valley High Schools offered readings and vocalist Marissa Massery performed selections during the vigil. Troopers Jean Thibodeau and Brian Berkel of the Massachusetts State Police stood guard during the ceremony, lighting candles when a family member could not.

Tree and quilt in memory of victims of drunk driving crashes
Whether it is the annual memento that each family takes home, the light refreshments and conversation that follow, or simply that moment when their loved one's face is shown or their name announced, the families of victims who are honored come back year after year. District Attorney Capeless said, "Some have told us that this ceremony is the only gift that they can now give to the one who is no longer here."